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72-Hour Recap of Affliction: Tragedy

Written by Tom Ngo
July 25th, 2009
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It was all sunshine and happiness for Affliction Entertainment just a few days ago, however Tuesday’s grumblings regarding heavyweight Josh Barnett’s failed pre-fight drug test turned the MMA world completely upside-down. Here is a look back at what exactly went down the 72 hours leading up to Friday’s official cancellation of “Affliction: Trilogy.”

Tuesday (July 21):

9:43PM PT

Sherdog.com reported that the California State Athletic Commission would not issue Barnett a license after after the former UFC heavyweight champion tested positive for a banned substance on a screening he took a few weeks back.

Barnett immediately denied any foul play, and vowed to fight the charges to the nth degree.

“No matter what happens with this, I can assure you I will clear my name. This will not be something that I am defined by,” Barnett emphatically stated.

MMA fans went to bed that night hoping they wouldn’t awake to the nightmare of having the highly anticipated heavyweight fight between Barnett and WAMMA heavyweight champ Fedor Emelianenko scrapped due to Barnett’s fascination with steroids.

Wednesday (July 22):

12:30PM PT

Affliction VP Tom Atencio confirms Barnett’s failed drug test during a previously scheduled “Affliction: Trilogy” conference call.

“He tested positive for a banned substance,” Atencio said about Barnett’s predicament. “The Athletic Commission will not reinstate his license. Him and Fedor is off.”

Atencio could not specify what substance or substances were found in Barnett’s system, only that his A-sample come up positive and that Barnett and Co. had already started the appeals process by asking the CSAC to test his B-sample as well.

Regardless of that outcome, Atencio was adamant that Barnett would not be participating in the event in any way as they had already forged ahead looking for a replacement.

“We are very confident in getting a worthy opponent,” Atencio stated on the call. “I am in the negotiation process with a few fighters and we’ll put on the best fight possible, as we always do, to make sure that the match-up is one of quality and lives up to the standards of Affliction.”

Atencio stated that they had narrowed their search down to three fighters, none of which he would mention by name.

The early favorite to stand opposite the Russian was former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, with reports suggesting that he had already signed on the dotted line; Internet chatter which Atencio wasn’t ready to commit to.

Belfort was already slated to take on American Top Team stud Jorge Santiago in a light heavyweight matchup on the same pay-per-view event.

Other names rumored were Strikeforce’s Brett Rogers, veterans Paul Buentello, Jeff Monson and former WWE employee Bobby Lashley. Light heavyweight prospect Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal’s name was reportedly thrown around as well.

3:25PM PT

The CSAC reports that traces of metabolite (2a-methyl-5a-androstan- 3a-ol-17-one), of the anabolic steroid Drostanolone, were found in heavyweight Josh Barnett’s system when he submitted an “Affliction: Trilogy” pre-fight test on June 25th.

“The license of Josh Barnett was denied pursuant to rule 303 of Title IV of the California Code of Regulations,” CSAC Interim Executive Officer Dave Thornton stated. “That rule prohibits the use of certain substances, including anabolic agents, by any boxer or MMA fighter.

“Our primary concern is for the health and safety of fighters. Anabolic agents and other banned substances put the users of those agents at risk, as well as their opponents. The commission simply will not tolerate their use.”

Thursday (July 23):

1:00AM PT

Mike Afromowitz, Strikeforce’s director of communications, told MMAjunkie.com that Brett Rogers will not be available to face Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction’s pivotal third promotion.

“Brett will be fighting on August 1st,” Afromowitz said. “Nothing is finalized, but he won’t be fighting on August 1st.”

8:05AM PT

Like a true man, Barnett faces the firing squad via his MySpace page. MySpace? Not even Facebook??? Weak, Josh.

Many of you are wondering what’s happening. What I can say is that when applying for my license, the CSAC asked for me to submit a urine sample for testing prior to granting my license as they do with everyone, I believe.

It was not a random test. I had no reason to believe there would be any issues and went in to submit my sample at the earliest possible opportunity on June 25. I never once thought there would be a problem.

My representatives and I are working to gather as much info as possible and handle this situation as best we can. I am embarrassed and want for nothing more than to resolve this issue and receive a license from the State of California as I have done many times already and for other states as well.

I am very thankful for all the great family, friends and fans that still support me.

9:11AM PT

Fedor Emelianenko’s manager and M-1 Global owner, Vadim Finkelchtein, tells a media-packed hall in Moscow that the fans, as well as they, prefer a fight against Rogers inside the Honda Center in Anahiem, California.

“Everyone in the world now wants to see the fight of Fedor, not Barnett,” Finkelchtein said. “People want to see Fedor fight. Belfort can make heavyweight, but the fans don’t want this fight. Fedor isn’t seeking an easy fight. If logistics weren’t an issue, we’d like to see Fedor fight against Brett Rogers. Fans want it, (and) so do we.”

9:25AM PT

For the first time, Emelianenko talks about the Barnett debacle.

“I feel disappointed about this situation,” Emelianenko saidd about Barnett’s predicament. “But I will fight anyone who Affliction puts in front of me. I know a lot of fans waited for this fight to happen, and I am sorry for them. I can’t do much about it now, but I am in good shape. My training has been good and continues to go well.”

Fedor says that he hadn’t spoken to his good ‘ol buddy yet, however he didn’t envision the topic of conversation to involve steroids once he did.

“We haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet, though I really want to,” Fedor said. “And once we do speak, most probably we will not discuss what has happened in the last day.”

10:15AM PT

UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar gives his two cents on Barnett’s ordeal while a guest on The Jim Rome Show. Lesnar stated that Barnett may have voluntarily poured dirt on his own grave, and that he would like to get some more Octagon time before taking on WAMMA champ Fedor Emelianenko.

“I don’t like to talk bad about anybody. I think it was a poor decision on Josh’s part,” the brash champion told Romey. “I think it’s probably a career-ending decision for him.”

Perhaps in the most humbling moment of his career, probably the only humbling moment, Lesnar opened up about his rawness to the sport of mixed martial arts and the fact that he needs a lot more work before he legitimately challenges Emelianenko.

“I think I have a lot to prove as a fighter,” Lesnar said. “I want to get a few more fights in and do it right. I’m not here to hotshot anything as far as the fight business. This is a business for me, first and foremost. This is how I make my living and that’s how I look at it.”

Friday (July 24):

10:27AM PT

Josh Gross of SI.com reported that Affliction Entertainment has decided to pull the plug on “Affliction: Trilogy.”

12PM PT:

Affliction Entertainment issues a press release officially confirming the cancellation of their third ever mixed martial arts promotion.

“Finding an opponent for the No. 1 ranked MMA heavyweight champion in such a short period of time was a huge endeavor, and I’m thrilled at the amount of fighters willing to take on this challenge,” Atencio stated. “But in the end, we just didn’t have enough time to promote a new fight to our standards.”

In closing, the company issued this somber statement regarding their canceled show:

Affliction is deeply disappointed that the undercard is also canceled through no fault of its own. Affliction stands behind the company’s brands and delivers premium products to the most passionate and loyal customers. Affliction’s first priority is to ensure that all future events live up to the company’s high standards.

MMA fans around the world would like to thank you, Josh Barnett, for making this all possible!

3:02PM PT

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Affliction Entertainment has agreed to cease all mixed martial arts promotional efforts in order to become an official sponsor for the UFC.

A UFC official later told MMAWeekly.com that a joint announcement between the UFC and Affliction is expected shortly.

Specifics regarding the agreement are not known, however it’s possible that you could see Affliction plastered all over UFC fighters as soon as UFC 101 on August 8th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

6:32PM PT

White appears on ESPN 1100 Radiothon and officially announced the UFC’s new agreement with Affliction Clothing.

“We are excited about the return of Affliction to the UFC and look forward to seeing our fighters once again walk into the octagon wearing the Affliction brands,” UFC president Dana White stated. “Affliction is an innovator of mixing fashion with this sport, and we are looking forward to working together to promote the sport.”

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